How I literally stumbled upon the Hermes sale, during the summer sales in Paris

It’s almost sale season in Paris.
The annual summer sales start on the same day for all stores in the city, and the date is usually decided and published in the French newspapers
So everyone knows when Day 1 is and it’s quite a fun and enjoyable mad rush around the city, especially in the areas of the big department stores and boutiques.
Earlier this week, though, I was in Bordeaux and I was shocked to see Galleries Lafayette — the iconic French department store with its main store in Paris — with huge banners announcing sales of up to 80%.
In Paris this time, we stayed at the beautiful new Shangri-la Paris.
Highly recommended.

I haven’t been to the Paris summer sales ever since I started running Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, as I’ve become simply too busy to even think about shopping except in terms of an hour or two here and there.
But there was a time when I actually would spend the last week of June each year, walking the entire Paris during sale season with my Japanese girl friends.
Map of Paris
As I haven’t properly done the Paris sales in the last few years, I thought the system had changed when I saw the Galleries Lafayette banners announcing sales of up to 80%.

I knew it wasn’t sale season yet and so I couldn’t figure out how Galleries Lafayette had gotten around the sale system

Every store is supposed to go on sale on the same day, you see.
It turned out that Galleries Lafayette did have a sale, but it was only for customers holding a loyalty card. Of course, I promptly joined and became a loyal customer.

What a good move this turned out to be, too. 
I bought two pairs of shoes at 50% off, and I was very happy. 
I think these were my only purchases in France as the Travel Companion isn’t into shopping. His window of patience in a store is about 30 minutes although he can be in a vineyard for three days without eating
So I never had much time and we spent most of our days looking at grapes and eating good food. Not that I’m complaining, as this was probably good for my credit card.
One afternoon, I did let him drive out on his own to the Medoc region as he wanted to meet with a few more chateaux while I’d simply had enough of vineyards by then.

Instead, I’d stayed in Bordeaux to check out the stores for an hour or two.


Now I have to tell you about how I discovered the Hermes sale in Paris. They don’t have the sale in their regular stores during sale season, you see, so you have to know where to go.
The Hermes sale is probably the least publicized of the designer sales, and the way my Japanese friend Keiko and I discovered it long ago deserves to be told.
It was a fine morning in June when we set out from the Park Hyatt Place Vendome for our usual pre-breakfast circular walk.

We went through the Tuileries, along the Seine and then finally past the Champs Elysees and typical working districts on the way back to the hotel.

In one of these districts, we saw dozens of women waiting in a line that snaked several blocks down outside a subway exit.
Most of them were either French or Japanese.
Unable to contain our curiosity, we asked a Japanese girl in line exactly what this was all about.

She stared at us as if we had just asked the silliest question in the world. “This is the Hermes sale,” she replied. “No leather bags, but lots of scarves, shoes and clothes.”

That was all we needed to know.

We were in our sweat pants and we had no money on us so we had to get back to our hotel to get the ammunition.

Unable to find a taxi, we ran the last three kilometers to our hotel to pick up our credit cards and dashed right back.

I had never seen Keiko run like this before—but this is exactly what sale season in Paris does to you!